Sarita Kenedy East, South Texas rancher and philanthropist, daughter of John G. and Marie Stella (Turcotte) Kenedy and granddaughter of Mifflin and Petra Vela de Kenedy, was born on September 19, 1889, in Corpus Christi, Texas. Her grandfather was Mifflin Kenedy, founder of the vast La Parra Ranch in what was then Cameron County (now Kenedy County). She spent much of her childhood at La Parra, and her father named the new town of Sarita, located on the Kenedy ranch, for his daughter upon the town’s founding around 1904. Sarita attended Incarnate Word Academy in Corpus Christi and then H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College in New Orleans. She also made her debut in New Orleans. She did not complete college, but instead returned to La Parra. On December 8, 1910, she married Arthur Lee East, a South Texas rancher. They did not have any children.
Mrs. Sarita Kenedy East was one of the most remarkable women in South Texas – one of the last of the Kenedy family that exerted great leadership in the development of South Texas.
Mrs. East was born in Corpus Christi on September 19, 1889, the granddaughter of Petra Vela Kenedy and Captain Mifflin Kenedy, pioneer rancher and investor. The town of Kenedy and the county of Kenedy are named in his honor. The county seat of Kenedy County is named Sarita, in honor of Sarita Kenedy East.
Sarita Kenedy married Arthur East, a South Texas rancher, at a home built by Captain Mifflin Kenedy, on the site of the present day Corpus Christi Cathedral. She was the daughter of John G. Kenedy and Marie Stella Turcotte of New Orleans, Louisiana.
Mrs. East, like her mother and grandmother, gave generously to the Catholic Church, especially to the Diocese of Corpus Christi. She also gave many anonymous donations to museums, hospitals and other charitable organizations throughout South Texas. Because of her many contributions to charities and her many years of devoted service to the Catholic Church, Mrs. East received two special honors from the Pope – the medal Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice and membership in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
Mrs. East died on February 11, 1961, bearing no children, but leaving behind a magnificent legacy that has left its impact on thousands of people in South Texas.
One year and one month before her death, Mrs. Sarita Kenedy East formed The John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation. It was set up as a non-profit corporation for religious, educational & charitable purposes – to honor the couple that gave birth to Sarita Kenedy East.
Mrs. East left the bulk of her estate to the Foundation. That estate was part of the financial and ranch holdings of her grandfather, Captain Mifflin Kenedy and her grandmother Petra Vela. Included were half of the 400,000 acre La Parra (Kenedy) Ranch, a smaller ranch in Colorado and oil and gas revenue from her holdings.